- Julie Thibaud and Grace Fisk are the respective captains of France and England
- The two teams will face each other in the Play-off for third place on Friday
- Pride at stake for both sides
English and French heads were very much down when they took their leave of the Stade de la Rabine in Vannes on Monday. Respectively beaten by Japan and Spain, the Young Lionesses and Les Bleuettes were forced to put their FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup dreams behind them, coming up just short at the final hurdle.
Visibly disappointed, the English and French players were understandably reluctant to share their thoughts with the media following their sides’ France 2018 exits. Two of them who did, though – and with heads held high – were respective team captains and centre-halves Grace Fisk and Julie Thibaud.
Both skippers were rueful when they spoke. While England failed to make the most of their speedy counter-attack play against the Young Nadeshiko, France had a golden opportunity to get back into their match with La Rojita, following Aitana Bonmati’s dismissal and the award of a penalty kick. The hosts passed up the chance, however, and were left, like England, to ponder what might have been.
Fisk: “There’s a huge sense of disappointment. We had high hopes of winning and making the final for the first time, but Japan just did what they had to and stopped us from achieving that. They were the better side and they deserved to win. We can only wish them the best for the final.”
Thibaud: “I hate losing, especially like that. It’s hard to take. We’re frustrated because we were obviously the better side, because we’re playing at home, because it’s the first World Cup for most of us, and because the opportunity was there for us to go through.”
Despite the disappointment, England and France will have the opportunity to end this tournament on a high. All that is left is a Play-off for third place and a bronze medal to win. Both Fisk and Thibaud have re-focused on Friday afternoon’s game after their semi-final defeats.
Fisk: "We are very proud to have created history. We are the first England team to reach the semi-finals of this tournament, and that counts for something. There is a chance for us to go a little further by finishing third, and we will do everything we can to not miss that opportunity."
Thibaud: “We're not going to give up, we’re going to regroup quickly, and get back on track. This is the moment to show our character and our ability to bounce back. It is imperative that we try and claim third place. Our honour is at stake. Defeat is not an option.”